Warning. Three things not to miss this Christmas. Posted on December 18, 2018December 21, 2018 by Dave Fenton Never mind the Twelve Days of Christmas, beware of the Twelve Daze of Christmas. Because that’s what it can all too easily become. A blur of advertising messages, busyness, and meeting the expectations of others can swamp us. And ‘it’s all over before you know it. This can be especially true for those of us who’ve been around long enough to now be active and retired. Automatic pilot kicks in. Been there. Done that. Bought the Christmas jumper. So here’s a little check list of three things we ought not to miss. Or, to put it another way, here’s some opportunities to grab with both hands. 1.Don’t miss those who are lonely You’ll be hearing it on the radio and in the shops –that big past Christmas hit –‘Do they know its Christmas time at all?’ One of the most evocative lines of any Christmas number one reminds us that far too many will be adrift from the joy and friendship that’s wrapped up in the Christmas season. Indeed, Christmas is the time the reality of loneliness can be painfully magnified when, seemingly, everybody else is having the time of their lives. All of which provokes the question, ‘What small part can you play to reduce the experience of loneliness for just one person?’ The answer will be different for each of us. But can we do something? For my own family, some of the best times have been when we have had an unexpected visitor with us. Like the Moroccan student who understood little of the meaning of Christmas and was even more confused when we went outside and threw snow at each other. 2.Don’t miss those who are hurting Christmas has a way of stirring up painful memories for those now missing someone they love. If a bereavement is recent then this is understandable and we’ll be taking account. But it can equally be true for anyone facing a stark reminder that someone dear to them is not round the table. It takes older and wiser heads to look out for the signs of pain. And a caring heart to come alongside and ‘be there’ for them. Who better than an after-worker – with their eyes and listening ears open – to respond. However, a loved-one’s absence is not the only possible cause for hurt during the Christmas season. My most poignant Christmas memory was at our Christmas market when a man in a wheelchair said ‘I’m here to buy my wife her last Christmas present I’ll ever buy’. Knowing he was terminally ill, he wanted his wife to have a memory. We took time to talk and pray with him. And now we see him as a constant reminder of the people to look out for. Of all the wonders of Christmas, the most important thing for me is the people. And it is surely a time to look beyond the comfort and security of our homes and realise there is still a huge world of need out there. 3.Don’t miss the meaning of the season This brings me back to my ‘automatic pilot’ concern. Those in the early stages of retirement can often have more responsibilities to distract them rather than less – children, grandchildren and even their parents. That makes it hard – but even more important – to find some space to reflect. What better way than to wrap our minds round that profound Charles Wesley carol which has a sermon in every line. Here it comes –to mull on and enjoy for the wonderful truths it carries. I’ve made some suggestions as to thoughts and responses you might have. Hark the herald angels sing Glory to the new born king Worship is due to the son of God Peace on earth and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled Pray for peace and new life for those who do not know Jesus Christ by highest heaven adored Christ the everlasting Lord Late in time behold him come Offspring of the virgin’s womb A brilliant description of the real Jesus Veiled in flesh the godhead see Hail the incarnate deity Jesus is both man and God Pleased as man with man to dwell Jesus our Emmanuel The living Word came and dwelt among us Mild he lays his glory by Born that man no more may die Born to raise the sons of earth Born to give them second birth From glory he came to give us new life in him Here’s to a happy, caring and Christ-centred Christmas. Dave Fenton Dave is a retired clergyman spending his after-work time lecturing at Moorlands College, building relationships and sharing his faith at his local golf club, and escaping to a cliff-top caravan in Cornwall where his seven grandchildren enjoy the local surfing beach. What way have you found to make Christmas special for others? Please share here or with our Facebook group.